Thursday, April 26, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Today I really wanted buffalo chicken flavor, but I had taco shells in the fridge, so I decided to marry the two and make buffalo chicken tacos.  I also decided to make them in the crockpot, so I put the chicken, 2 stalks of celery, a handful of carrots, a pepper, a cup of hot sauce, and a half cup of ranch dressing.  I put it on low and cooked everything for about 5 hours.  After 5 hours, I took the chicken out and shredded it, then put it back in the crock pot.  I let that stay in there, just as long as it took to heat some taco shells, set the table, and pour some drinks.

Buffalo Chicken Tacos 
After I set the table, I scooped out the chicken mixture, and topped each taco with bleu cheese and fresh cilantro.  They were so good!  They did turn out quite spicy though, so if you don't like spice too much, you could cook the chicken and vegetables in half a cup hot sauce, half a cup chicken stock, and half a cup ranch dressing.  You could also use bleu cheese dressing instead of the ranch and any other shredded cheese instead of the bleu!  Yay for options!

Buffalo Chicken Tacos

2 chicken breasts
6 (approx.) soft taco shells
1 bell pepper, julienned
2 stalks celery, julienned
1/2 cup carrots, julienned
1/2 cup ranch or bleu cheese dressing
1 cup Frank's Red Hot (or 1/2 cup + 1/2 cup chicken stock)
1/4 cup bleu cheese
Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Place chicken, vegetables, hot sauce, and dressing in crock pot.  Cook on low for approximately 5 hours.  Take chicken out and shred it with two forks.  Place back in crock pot.  Heat tortilla shells in microwave according to packaging.  Fill taco shell with approximately 1 scoop of chicken mixture, top with bleu cheese and garnish with cilantro.  Serve with rice if you want.  (Knorr makes buffalo chicken rice.)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Since I have been trying to cook one seafood dish a week, I decided to try my hand at tuna noodle casserole.  Though I have no recollections of my mom making this, I feel as though this is an iconic American dinner.  I found a recipe in a cookbook my Aunt bought me for Christmas which sounded delicious!  My first predicament came when I realized the cookbook was printed in England, which meant  things like ounces instead of tablespoons.  After I figured out all of the measurements, I followed the recipe except I switched cream of mushroom soup for cream of celery because mushrooms are gross!
Edit: Though I like mushrooms now, I still always use cream of celery in this casserole.  This is my go-to when company comes over.  After you taste it, you will know why!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole

7 ounces wide egg noodles
1/4 Italian bread crumbs
1 10.5 ounce can cream of celery soup
1/2 cup milk
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
5 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1 5 ounce can tuna fish, drained and flaked

Preheat oven to 400.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
Add the pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than specified on the package directions.
Drain the pasta well and set aside.
Pour the soup into the pasta pot over medium heat.  Stir in milk, celery, bell peppers, 3 ounces of cheese, and parsley.
Add the tuna and stir in so that everything is incorporated.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat just until bubbles form on the edge of the mixture, do not bring to a boil.
Stir the pasta into the tuna mixture.
Pour mixture into a greased casserole dish.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top in an even layer.  Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the cheese evenly.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Comfort Foods

Friday, April 20, 2012

Turkey Noodle Soup

Obviously I needed a way to use some of the turkey leftovers because Matt and I can't eat 11 pounds of turkey meat before it would go bad.  I decided to transform some of it into turkey noodle soup, especially because my stomach had been upset, and what's better than chicken noodle soup?  (Or I suppose in this case, turkey noodle soup.)
This was a very easy soup to make.  First, I put one box of frozen mixed vegetables in the crockpot, celery, then added 4 cups of chicken stock, a couple cups of turkey, some parsley, salt, and pepper.  About an hour before I was ready to eat, I added some spiral noodles.  After they had cooked for a half an hour, I added two more cups of broth, as the noodles had sucked up a bunch of the broth.  I let it cook another half and hour, and it came out great!

Turkey Noodle Soup
Turkey Noodle Soup

1 box of frozen mixed vegetables (I used one with corn, carrots, and peas)
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups cooked turkey (or chicken)
1 cup uncooked spiral pasta
6 Cups Chicken Stock

Turn Crockpot on low
Add vegetables, turkey, 4 cups of broth, and seasonings to taste.
Let cook for four hours (actually it doesn't really matter how long you cook this, as long as it's hot)
About 1 hour before you're ready to eat, add the remaining broth and the noodles.  Let cook one hour and you're ready to eat!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pepper and Onion Calzones

I've been trying to cook one vegetarian meal a week to cut down on cholesterol for Matt and I.  This week, I decided to do that with some pepper and onion calzones.  (Well, honestly, the cheese probably negates the meatlessness, but at least I didn't have both!)
First, I sauteed the peppers and onions with some garlic for a few minutes in a frying pan, just to make sure they cooked all the way through.  After that, I decided to roll out the herb dough I bought at Trader Joe's (I know, cheating) on the counter.  I spread the flour out on the counter to roll it out that I don't have a rolling pin... wine bottle it was!  After it was an adequate size, I filled half of the dough with the peppers, onions, some ricotta, and fresh mozzarella.  (Note, in the picture, you can see that I didn't leave room around the edges, make sure you do that if you make these, it will make folding it over so much easier!!)

Filling the calzone
Once filled, I folded the empty half over onto the full half, closed it up, sprayed the outside with cooking spray, and transferred it to the oven.

 I cooked it for 35 minutes (for wheat dough!) on 400 and then enjoyed it when done!

Pepper and Onion Calzone
Pepper and Onion Calzones

1 package pizza dough (or you can make one batch of your own!)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
4 ounces fresh mozzarella
Toppings of choice (I used 1 green pepper and one onion)
Cooking Spray or olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook your calzone filling to about half cooked.  (Unless it's meat, then cook it through.)
Meanwhile, spread some flour onto your counter.  Take your rolling pin (or bottle of wine!) and spread out to about 3/4 length of a cookie sheet, just make sure you don't make it too thin.
After that, add ricotta to half of your dough, making sure not to go all the way to the edges.  After that, add the filling and top with mozzarella.
Fold empty dough half on top of filled dough half.
To seal the calzone, fold bottom extra dough edges (aren't you glad you didn't put the filling all the way to the edge!) over the top of the top layer.  Once you work all the way around, transfer to a greased cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 30 minutes (add 5-10 minutes for wheat dough) on 400.
When you take it out, let it rest for about five minutes and serve with a side of marinara sauce.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sausage Sandwiches

Today I wanted to make a quick dinner, so I decided to make sausage sandwiches.  Some of my two favorite things are sausage and beer, so I decided to combine the two in this super easy recipe!  I poured one can of beer (I used Labbat Blue, but you can use whatever you want) and added the sausage.  Then I covered it and cooked it for about 10 minutes.  After that, I added chopped peppers and onions and cooked those in the beer as well.  After another 10 minutes, I toasted the bread and served the sandwiches!

Sausage, peppers, and onions cooking away
Sausage Sandwich

Sausage Sandwiches:

1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 Hot or Mild Italian sausage links
1 can beer
4 kaiser rolls

Pour can of beer into frying pan and add sausage.  Cook for 10 minutes, covered.  Uncover and add vegetables.  Cook for another 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
While cooking the veggies, put rolls in the microwave or about 15 seconds to warm them up.
Once everything is cooked, put into sandwiches and enjoy!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spaghetti Cupcakes

Have you ever cooked a big Italian meal and decided you needed a dessert to go with it, but couldn't decide what to cook?  Well, here's the perfect solution, spaghetti cupcakes!  Okay, they're not real spaghetti, but they sure do look like a big platter of spaghetti and meatballs! (Plus, they're really easy!)
First, make your favorite white or yellow cupcakes and your favorite vanilla frosting.  (We actually were going to use boxed for both, but didn't have any, so we made both from scratch!)
After the cupcakes are cool, the fun part comes!  Arrange 11 of them on a platter.  Frost a thin layer of frosting on each cupcake before putting the spaghetti on.  Put your frosting into a piping bag, or if you're like me and don't have a piping bag, cut the corner of a baggie and use that, just make sure your frosting is thick enough to withstand the piping process.  Also, make sure to make the "spaghetti" isn't perfect, just like real spaghetti would be.  After you put down the layer of spaghetti, roll the Ferrero Rocher candies in some of your favorite red jelly for the "sauce."  We used strawberry, but you could use raspberry if that's what you have on hand.  After that, put one candy on each cupcake as the "meatballs" and leave a couple of extras on the plate, as if they rolled off.  Sprinkle with some shredded coconut for the "parmesan." Now you're ready to enjoy!

I should also note that I was the sous chef for this recipe, as my sister did most of the actual cooking :)

Ingredients for Toppings:
*If frosting is too runny, add more powdered sugar
12 Ferrero Rocher Candies
Strawberry or Raspberry Jelly, enough to cover the candy
Shredded Coconut, just a couple pinches